He said that in the end it is beauty that is going to save the world now
February 18, 2014 10:40 PM   Subscribe

La bella vita: True beauty pleases the eye and the mind – but can it help us to become better people? "In 1795, the German dramatist and poet Friedrich Schiller published a book with a fearsome title – On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters. It has never become well-known, which is a pity, because it contains some of our most useful insights into the nature and value of beauty. Schiller’s starting point is an analysis of the human condition. He wants to understand our delight in what we find beautiful. Instead of asking which things are beautiful, Schiller is curious about what is going on in us when we respond with this distinctive, intimate thrill and enthusiasm that leads us to say ‘that’s beautiful’. Different things might provoke this response in different people. But why do we have it at all?" [Via]
posted by homunculus (13 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Wittgenstein's later advice to Schiller:
"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent" - Ludwig Wittgenstein (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus")

The Neuroscience of Beauty

I'll stick with Schiller's poetic works. Or, listen to his words put to music. Why? Because in asking the question, Schiller experienced beauty within the very experience of asking about it - i.e. he found beauty within the very act of asking questions like this.
posted by Vibrissae at 12:08 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Or, listen to his words put to music yt .

Speaking of which: Following the Ninth
posted by homunculus at 12:47 AM on February 19, 2014

Wittgenstein's later advice to Schiller

Was that actually a direct response to Schiller?
posted by Sangermaine at 12:47 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

German Idealism is a fascinating and weird era of thought. The biographer Rudiger Safranski said, in his book, Schopenhauer and the Wild Years of Philosophy, "Kant left a well-appointed house for rational cognition, but the Thing-In-Itself was like a hole letting in a draft".
posted by thelonius at 12:48 AM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Neuroscience of Beauty

Previously: Aesthetics and Neuroscience
posted by homunculus at 1:12 AM on February 19, 2014

Is this a good place for a Schiller noob to start? Does it matter whether you're primarily interested in his thought or his poetry (obviously the former informs the latter)?
posted by Segundus at 1:14 AM on February 19, 2014

"When we recognise beauty in a piece of music, or the graciousness of someone’s conduct, we see things that we know we have neglected or betrayed, and we feel an astonishing combination of anguish and delight."

Nice idea (can't find the actual source of it though). I read a bit of Schiller when I was researching the aesthetics of the sublime. Schiller claimed that the sense of the sublime can help reconcile people to death. This was highly intriguing. But, when I dug a bit deeper I discovered that this is because the sublime supposedly reveals to us the immortality of the soul (i.e. what Kant already claimed), so it was a bit disappointing. More generally, the author of this article neglects to mention just how much Schiller's thinking is pervaded by a Kantian account of human nature, that contemporary materialist readers may not endorse.
posted by leibniz at 2:15 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

But why do we have it at all?

Because evolution.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:23 AM on February 19, 2014

Is this a good place for a Schiller noob to start?

It's a good place, actually, for a German Post-Kantianism noob to start; it must be the most readable of all the philosophical works of that era (a close second would be Schiller's "On Naive and Sentimental Poetry" which is the best single answer to the question "What is Romanticism?" that I know of). Schiller, of course, is a much less rigorous thinker than Kant, Fichte or Schlegel, but he is a great deal more approachable.
posted by yoink at 8:51 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Was that actually a direct response to Schiller?

Most definitely not, though it was a statement in part about aesthetics.

I think in aesthetics circles and courses, this is still usually the work you start with. I think it's not that interesting philosophically, as it reads a bit more like Schiller's musings than a rigorous piece of thinking, but it's definitely a fun and interesting read.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:46 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Schiller shills Kant’s cant.
Goethe gets Spinoza’s spin.
posted by No Robots at 10:55 AM on February 19, 2014

I always mix him up with Schelling, which is, I guess, why I never made the big time studying German Idealism
posted by thelonius at 2:41 PM on February 19, 2014

Since when has it never become well-known? Surely it's at least as well known as the Kritik der Urteilskraft.
posted by kenko at 4:24 PM on February 19, 2014

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